By Natalie Rojas
Internships seem to be an essential priority in all college students’ minds, but especially for juniors and seniors. Earned bachelor’s degrees accompanied by blood, sweat and tears seem to have less value if not backed up with experience. As a junior in college myself, I know how important it is to land an internship. But if that isn’t already challenging enough, the real obstacle lies in the absolute connection and creativity shown in your resume and cover letter format.
Unlike resumes that can sneak by in a cookie-cutter format, cover letters should connect an individual’s uniqueness to the desired internship position.
Last semester I sought help from one of my favorite professors, and in his wise words, he said, “If you can’t market yourself, how do you expect to work in the marketing industry.” And at that moment, all the informational classes I took on, “How to Write a Cover Letter,” went out the window.
This professor and I worked on transforming my traditional cover letter into a new personalized story format throughout the winter break. I know it sounds taboo to write your cover letter like a story, but what a better way to have employers remember you. After all, this story is based on a true story.
Here are five-steps to transform your traditional cover letter into a new personalized story format.
Step 1. Who are You and What Drives You?
Selecting an ideal internship is usually driven by ulterior motives, such as personal connections to the company, the same mission, values, etc. Therefore, it is important to first identify what connects you to the company and why you are the perfect candidate.
Step 2. Research the Company's History.
In relation to the infamously known PR process, the first step in creating a personalized cover letter is research. As journalism and/or public relations majors, we are all aware of how important it is to know the ins and outs of a topic. Therefore, researching and knowing the company will not only benefit you during the interview but also show employers your devotion to the company in your cover letter.
Career experts always say to research a company before applying for a job and before you head in for an interview. In an article by HUFFPOST, the author states that “Being prepared for the job interview demonstrates to the employer that the job seeker is genuinely interested in the job. And, that preparation is often viewed by the employer as an example of the job seeker’s work.”
Take the introduction of my cover letter, for example. I connected L’Oreal’s humble beginnings to the humble beginnings of my family’s own history (i.e., creating a story through these connections). And additionally, demonstrating to the employer that I am genuinely interested in the job.
Step 3. Utilize Keywords.
Because of the much-appreciated invention of the internet, mostly all applications are submitted online. This means that your resume and cover letter will be processed and scanned through the Applicant Tracking System or ATS before it ever meets the eyes of an employer. The ATS is a software application that scans resumes and other job recruitment documents for relevant keywords such as skills, job titles, and educational backgrounds.
Therefore, your cover letter’s body should exhibit your skills in connection to the skills required in the job application. For example, some of the ideal skills for the L’Oreal internship description are as follows:
So, in the body of my cover letter, I made sure to incorporate the relevant and previously listed skills based on my acquired learned skills. After this step has been completed, you can double-check your work on practice ATS checking websites. Websites like these are particularly fantastic because they are free for the first eight checks, and the website gives you a grade. Therefore, you can continue to adjust till you receive your desired grade. However, it should be noted that companies can personalize their ATS, so websites like these are not “set in stone” and are only meant as practice.
Step 4. Continue to Connect.
As previously mentioned, your cover letter is telling a story. So, tell the story well. Find an answer to What does the company personally means to you? Why do you honor or respect this company? When did you realize this company was important to you? Remember, you are competing against hundreds or thousands of people who have worked equally as hard or harder than you. But without a doubt, you are the perfect candidate for the job, duh!
For example, in my cover letter, I expressed that I am the perfect candidate because I bring valuable insight as a consumer. Note that I demonstrate that I am a consumer through a personal story that is meaningful to me. In turn, this story gives confirmation to L’Oreal that their products are providing pleasant and meaningful memories. Additionally, I am showcasing my knowledge in the divisions L’Oreal is broken into and how their campaign strategies have successfully affected me as an adult. (Note how this relates to Step 1. Research)
Step 5. Conclude.
After all that writing and great connections, it’s finally time to conclude. For this uniquely styled cover letter format, the only thing that should always be kept traditional is the conclusion.
Your letter’s final paragraph is key — it’s what leaves the last impression of you with an employer. Consequently, this is where you should place your call-to-action. What’s the name of the position you are applying for?
Lastly, you should always keep a respectful tone when you thank them for their time and consideration (as seen in my conclusion above). Additionally, you may choose the closing salutation of your own liking; however, I would say “sincerely” is your safest bet.
Congratulations! You have successfully transformed your cover letter into a new personalized story format. Now you are ready to hit submit and land that internship.
If you need help completing your new transformers cover letter, here is my final product.
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